GI Journey in Wisconsin

My name is Kathy Boguszewski. I currently volunteer as a teacher/librarian at Rock University High School. I collaborate with Mike McKinnon, a retired social studies teacher and state leader during the Young Historians Class  on the National History Day Project. We followed the Guided Inquiry Design Process with fidelity for the first time this year. We had 7 students compete at regional competition at UW Madison a week ago. 4 of them advanced to the state completion the end of April. All the students commented in their reflections that GI helped them to think deeper and communicate better with their peers on historical topics.

When my journey began in public education with teachers and students:

I began working directly with teachers in April 1967 when I graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. There was a great need for certified teachers who were willing to teach with teachers on how to use the elementary school libraries that were built in the mid 1960s. I had hoped to be a classroom teacher, but the offer for a job right when I graduated was very appealing. I never looked back.

The first challenge I had was to motivate the teachers to work with me as an instructional partner. They saw the school library as they did the public library in the neighborhood, a place to check out books. I asked them if I could observe what they were teaching to help me see if the materials we had could enhance their textbook content. In those days – it was all about the textbooks. I then took time away from the school library to gain more teaching experience. I taught 1st and 5th grade. I moved to California where I worked as a library assistant in the Public Library. I realized that I had a fever for learning and contributing more to the education of children so I applied and was accepted in the UW Madison Library and Information Studies Master’s program in 1984-85.

My first position after graduation was at Milton High School in Wisconsin as the Library Media Specialist. The principal told me that when he asked a student in the school where the library was, he expected them to answer enthusiastically, not only where it was, but that they were there often. The library at the time, was in the basement of the school and under-utilized.

Again – I met with the departments and asked them if I could observe in their classrooms, so I could get a feel for what the students were learning and suggest resources that could enhance their learning. I soon discovered the work of Carol Kuhlthau and again, I never looked back. Her research into the Information Search Process made so much sense. In the 1990’s I participated in a 2 year summer institute with Jean Donham at the University of Iowa. That experience helped me understand my role as a co-assessor with the teachers during the research process. During the 15 years I was in Milton, we passed a referendum, built a larger centrally located library media center, opened before school, during, and after school until 7:30 PM. The library was the first place in the building to recognize the power of the Internet. Every academic and tech ed curriculum program utilized the school library for research, materials selection, and connection to virtual classes. It was, and still is, the learning commons of the school.

In the 2000’s I began working in the School District of Janesville as the Library Media and Instructional Technology Coordinator. I helped co-write a grant for a Charter School. We based the instructional design for the Charter School on Carol Kuhlthau’s ISP. The school would be Learning Driven where technology is used as a cognitive tool to assist the learner in the acquisition of information and the communication of ideas.

We took a trip to Rutgers University where we sat in on Dr. Kuhlthau’s class and spoke with Dr. Ross Todd. Carol  arranged for us to spend a day at Gil St. Bernard’s, a private school, where we observed the partnership between the library media specialists and the teachers and the high level research the students were conducting, following Kuhlthau’s model.

The Dean of the Charter School and I were invited to Rutgers in 2013 where we participated in the CiSSL 3rd International Research Symposium and a celebration of Dr. Kuhlthau’s work. At that time we learned about the and how it related to the ISP. In the summer of 2015 a charter school team of teachers and administrators participated in the Guided Inquiry Institute in Eau Claire Wisconsin. We chose to align the National History Day Project to the Guided Inquiry Process, a slight variation from the ISP. More on that project tomorrow.


    1. As I read over what I wrote, I realized the story was more about me. I thought of deleting part of it as I want the story to be about the role of the library media specialist as an instructional partner during the Guided Inquiry Design Process. In each case, the elementary time period and the high school time period, I needed to build relationships. I did not know that at the time. I just knew I wanted teachers to show their students that their was so much more information available to them, some of it even controversial. The end of the 1960’s was a very controversial time period. Textbooks were outdated. Some current events publications were watered down. Then when I returned to the public school arena almost 20 years later the Internet made a huge difference. I was excited, because instantly we could get at even more information, not all of it reliable or even appropriate for children. Our role as instructional partner is even more critical today. I find that I curate many resources for the students, spend time with teaching them how to do advanced searches in subscription databases – but they go to Google as first choice. So then I show them how to search in Google for the best information and how to judge the results. Always looking for bias. The National History Day Project requires an annotated bibliography. They have to analyze primary sources and if they use Google they need to include a statement on the authority of the source.

      What is your story of your journey? What are the challenges you are facing in building relationships with your faculty? Are you at the missionary stage where you need to convert them or did you follow in the footsteps of someone who set the stage?

  1. I love that you have been familiar with Kulthau’s work for so long! I also respect your need for more teaching experience – that is one of things I tell my teachers – that I have been in their shoes and I want to help them!

    1. I think it is critical to have a teaching license. During the teacher licensure training we learn about pedagogy and strategies that engage students. From my observations the best transitions between classroom and teacher/librarian occur with those who have had experience teaching reading and English/ Language Arts. Special Education and ELL teachers also have a strong background in reaching all students and team teaching. I see a career path from teacher to teacher/librarian if you want to be involved with the entire school and still want to teach children. For a teacher/librarian I also believe we need coaching and collaboration training. I believe the practicum experience needs to include collaboration with teachers. Maybe even another student teacher!! Practical applications of what we learn – especially collaboration skills – is what will make or break Guided Inquiry.

    2. Thank you Jenny. Carol Kuhlthau’s extensive research is what got my attention. She concentrated on the feelings of students. Her work showed the need not to assign a “report” with a deadline. The Guided Inquiry Process is the best next step I have seen. And if you can do the math – I have seen many other models throughout my career. 🙂 Kathy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *